My husband and I just returned, this week, from the Eastern itinerary on board the Oasis of the Seas - July 31 to August 6. This was my 9th cruise and my husband's 4th and we both agree that it has been our favourite. For the last several years I have been on the receiving end, most of the time, in terms of information and advice on these boards and so I feel I must give back each time I go on a cruise, in the form of a review.
I'll attempt to provide an overview of my experience on this magnificent vessel by covering various topics over the next several days. I will include notes about embarkation, the cabin, music venues and performers, the art collection, the shows, activities, pools, food and debarkation. After each section I'll include some personal tips/suggestions/pleas for my fellow cruisers/posters, as well as some suggestions for RCL, from this passenger's point of view. I must warn you that it will be very detailed. First, when I go on a cruise I crave reviews with loads of detail. Secondly, I want to be very specific about certain aspects of my cruise, such as performers and venues, to both inform future cruisers as well as to give these people credit, by name. I hope you enjoy it and find the information useful, at the same time.
I felt that I was being teleported, it was that fast. We completed our forms online and I am sure that helps. Our luggage was waiting for us on the carousel and we were only parked at the gate for about ten minutes. That's fast! We grabbed a cab and from the moment we entered the port terminal to the moment my husband was chowing down on a roast beef sandwich, less than fifteen minutes had passed. In total, less than an hour from plane to lunch on board the ship. Guest Assembly Drill, aka Muster Drill, was the least painless procedure of its kind that I have ever experienced and for us it was held in Studio B, the venue for skating.
Note to RCL:
1) Great idea to remove the life jackets from the cabin. So much smarter to show a film outlining the procedure for donning the jacket without the distraction of standing in the blazing sun, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other people, while staring down those passengers who feel the overwhelming urge to blow their whistles all at once, as some poor crew member tries to maintain some semblance of order. In the event of the ship going down, do I really want to run back to my cabin to find my life jacket? I'd so rather trample over my fellow cruisers to get to my muster station, knowing that the life jacket will be given to me as I board the lifeboat! Good change in procedures! 2) It was unclear to many passengers that crew members needed to know the number on each sea pass, in order to direct them to their correct muster station. That's why it was essential that every passenger, including children, had their individual sea pass with them for the drill. Children were given colour coded wrist bands at this drill. Perhaps a card indicating the actual location for the drill and placed on the passenger's bed in the cabin, would have facilitated a faster assembly.
Note to Fellow Cruisers:
1) Consider taking a cab from the airport to the port. It's so much faster than waiting for other passengers to arrive and fill up a bus, which will be your fate if you choose to use the transfer voucher system, included in so many bookings. 2) If you have a carry on, make it as light as possible. If you board early, you may have a bit of a wait to access your cabin and believe me you will want to start exploring this ship as soon as you board and doing it with a light weight bag over your shoulder is a whole lot easier than dragging luggage behind you. 3) Muster Drill is at 4:15. Make every attempt to assemble at your station as early as possible. Everyone is anxious to start the fun portion of their vacation and having to wait for passengers who don't see the point in this exercise is not the fun portion of the vacation. Also, be polite in maintaining a respectful silence while the safety procedures are explained by the captain. While some might find it irrelevant or silly, others around them might want to know. I'm funny that way. If someone on a public address system is asking me for my attention and explaining procedures which may save my life or the lives of others, I listen.
We were in Cabin 11214. I was really pleased with the layout. Our bed was alongside the balcony and we did not find it cramped, at all.
Nice sized balcony with high round table to accommodate room service breakfast in the morning. No lounge chair but two very comfortable chairs and a clear railing for excellent views. The balcony door will not close entirely from the outside and the AC shuts off, as a result. I would suggest closing the heavy curtains to keep the room as cool as possible if someone doesn't remain in the cabin to close the door. Things will heat up very fast, if you don't.
A master switch controls all things electrical in the room and other switches allow you to control the lighting in the room from the bed, a very nice touch. We did not find the electrical outlets inconveniently placed, as has been reported by some on these boards. We also didn't feel the need for a power bar. Really pleasant ambient lighting options, including soft lights over the art work, as well.
Nice sized flat screen, which displays everything you need to access, including your account, how busy the venues and restaurants are on the ship, and a schedule of what is happening at any time on the ship. You can also access menus in the MDR which makes it convenient to book alternate restaurants for those nights when nothing appeals to you on the menu. For those passengers in inside cabins, a camera view of the bow of the ship indicates weather, as well.
Ample storage in the closets and thankfully they have done away with those puzzling hangers that must hook through a hole in order to prevent theft. They have these undersized hook hangers which would never fit standard rods in homes. Very clever. Also there are many hangers including clip hangers for pants and skirts. The self closing closets are really cool. Just give them a nudge forward and they glide shut on their own. Nice deep shelves for shirts and shorts and drawers for smaller items.
Equally thoughtful is the removable shower head. Don't miss the fact that the shower head has a switch to adjust the water pressure, as well. The shower is really large with a water dappled curved door to maximize space and a bar for women to place their legs, for that all important shaving touch up session! All toiletries are provided so that you can save space for souvenirs in your luggage. A permanent dim light in the washroom ensures that I no longer need to do my drunken grope fest in the middle of the night, to find the washroom. It also very dimly illuminates the door, in case of emergency. Finally, generously proportioned terry robes are provided in the room and they are excellent for wrapping yourself in after a shower.
I loved the bed. I swear it's the roomiest bed I have ever enjoyed on a cruise. The two singles placed side by side made for a king-size and the curved shape at the end was great for moving around the room with ease. Super comfortable mattress. I have had to ask for an egg crate in the past but not on this cruise. Firm support and wonderfully soft pillow top. Really cozy duvet with a sheet under it in case you find it too warm. Excellent selection of pillows and really good quality linens. I loved that bed and had a very hard time leaving it in the morning. We have a sleep number bed at home and I find myself yearning for my cruise bed. I'm fickle that way.
Note to RCL:
1) My only complaint about your incredible ship is the bizarre lack of soundproofing in the cabins. What happened? Every time the bathroom door in the cabin next to us closed, we could hear it. During previous cruises on RCL, once the door in my cabin closed, I could hear virtually no sound from the outer hallway or adjacent cabins. Not so on the Oasis. Conversations in the hall and doors slamming shut were heard all day and into the night. How could you build such a feat of modern engineering and not take into account, the need for passengers to have a quiet space? I realize that the doors have to be self-closing but are there not materials available to cushion the impact of the door slamming? Do building materials not exist which could be used in the walls to prevent sound travelling between the cabins and halls? I don't know if the noise problem can be corrected on the Oasis but I do hope it can be prevented on the Allure.
Note to Fellow Cruisers:
1) Please refrain from yelling instructions down the hall to your children, husband and/or wife regarding where you will meet them for lunch. It's so much easier and so much more considerate to gather them as a clan and make those plans in the cabin or all together in the hall using a quiet voice. There now. I feel so much better pointing out this obvious thing.
2) Now that we know the door slams shut and it will probably slam shut until its poor little hinges give up the ghost, it might be a good idea to grab the handle when the door closes in the bathroom and the door to the hall, as well. It's a little thing but it will make for good cabin neighbour relations.
3) You might want to caution your children against running up and down the halls at night or any time of the day, for so many reasons, one of which is the disturbance it causes. Just a thought. Sheesh. My parents would never have had to tell us that.
Musicians and Venues
I can't say enough positive things about the music on board the Oasis. During a time when live musicians are being replaced with synthesized music, it is both refreshing and encouraging to witness the priority that RCL gives to its musical entertainment. Kudos to you! The high calibre of performers, as well as the huge variety of acts were amazing to me. I know for some people music, like art, provides a background and contributes to the general ambiance of the evening. For me, it's different. It is the experience. I don't want to carry on a conversation while someone is singing or playing because I don't want to miss anything. The collection of venues and the group of musicians and singers on board the Oasis, for our cruise, really made the cruise and for that reason I want to refer to them, by name.
(If music isn't your thing, you might want to skip this section and go and paint a mural. If painting isn't your thing, you might want to ...well you get my drift.)
A huge thank you to Justin Smith, the musical director on board the Oasis for his role in assembling such a cast of talented singers and musicians and for creating a program throughout the week which appealed to every imaginable taste. What a task! To the guys in the orchestra - your passion for music is contagious and your enthusiasm for pleasing your audience is a delight to behold. We listened to the pianist, the bass player, the trombone player and the drummer one night in the Viking Lounge. They billed themselves as The Oasis Trio, (hmmm), and it was a blast. A thank you goes out to them for introducing us to some pieces we had never heard before and performing a foxtrot for the two of us to stumble our way through! You guys were great!
Smooth Sailing Trio was another fun group. Great renditions of Nat King Cole, Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and a few Elvis tunes for good measure. Every time a woman would arrive the lead singer would call out, "Hey beautiful lady...I've been waiting for you all of my life!" Invariably she would stay and he would use the same line on the next woman who would arrive. You can find them in the Viking Lounge, as well. This bar is beautiful and if you want a comfortable, quiet place to read and view the ocean in the afternoon, I'd recommend the corner lounges. Great place for a little snooze in the sunlight or shade - you choose. Great views of sail-aways, too. The pina coladas aren't too shabby, either.
For dancing, I'd recommend the Bamba Band in Boleros, where the bartenders are friendly and the music is way fast. Sit back and watch the Latinos show you how to salsa, after 11:00. Great male vocalist and nice dance floor. Center Piece in Dazzles is a great band, too. They play all sorts of pop music from the 50's to right now. Very talented female vocalist and if you like to jitterbug, don't miss their 50's/60's night. Dazzles is a two level lounge and it has a breathtaking view from a floor to ceiling window. it's a gorgeously appointed room that gets busy as the evening goes on.
The Calypso Band was so much fun on the pool deck. It's been a while since I heard a live steel drum on a ship and watching these guys singing "Big Ship" was great. If you have kids, catch their steel drum demonstration during the music themed afternoon on the Boardwalk. The guys from the orchestra do some fantastic marching pieces with the little kids accompanied by the female leads from Hairspray dressed up as wacky waitresses, along with another girl on stilts. Great fun. Last, but not least of the bands is the Katie Lolozzetta Quartet found nightly in Jazz on 4. This room is a red/black concoction of shadows and musical seduction and the quartet is just too good. Katie is only too happy to take requests and their interpretation of "Fly Me to the Moon" was perfect. Very smooth, polished performers.
If you like single performers, don't miss Pedro Espidido, playing classical guitar one evening in Central Park or Classical Wave a duo consisting of piano and violin. Heavenly stuff. It's a great way to slow things down and take in the sultry summer air in the park. Jimmy Blakemore is a talented performer who appears nightly in the Globe and Atlas pub. He is a very laid back singer whose repertoire is vast and who sings every song with a kind of joy you would only expect from a first performance of the piece. He seems grateful that such music exists for him to play and I found his manner charming. He can sing and play anything. Love his Beatles. Be warned, though. You will want to jump up and dance and you might have to hop off your high stool and clear a space for yourself. Ed Manego, the piano bar player, is located in the Schooner Bar and the night we were there he had honed in on a fellow Aussie and agreed to sing a song about how Australia will always be his home. It was quite beautiful. Sorry, I can't remember the title of the song. I'm a Canuck and I was ready to kiss a kangaroo by the time it was over. Schooners is one of my favourite spaces, in terms of lounges. It overlooks the Rising Tide Bar and the art work is really cool. Check out the two framed etching/engravings of lighthouses around the world and catch a whiff of the wood burning smoke. It's there and it's deliberate to add to the feel of the place. Stay for a while and you might catch a set by Richard Jasper, the resident bagpiper, currently delighting the people on board the ship.Apparently there have been three pipers since the inauguration. He plays the full pipes every port day, while on deck, to call the passengers on board. Me, I just yell. "Hey, we're leaving without you!" Works every time but not as artistic. He also plays in the pub and modifies the instrument for a lower volume so that it doesn't interfere with the other bars on the same level. If you like Celtic music, you'll love this guy, complete in his kilt and some very neat looking shoes. Unfortunately we missed his scheduled informal lecture where he was supposed to explain how the pipes work. He is a very pleasant person and quite approachable for a photo op!
Note to RCL:
1) Passengers can use the cabin screens to access the venues to determine the performers each day but it would have been more useful to provide the information under the performer heading instead of venue heading, for the entire cruise. That way we could have scheduled our time better to ensure that we saw as many performers as possible. 2) I can't help but think that the names of the members of the orchestra and the various bands should be published either online on the RCL site or on some ship publication. They deserve the recognition and publicity and as it stands, they don't get it. Each time I stopped to tell a performer how much I enjoyed his or her performance on the particular instrument the person seemed so surprised and appreciative. I know the contracts change but if it was done online, it could be updated, as everything else is on the official site. I would have loved to look them up on the Internet when I got home but I couldn't. 3) Thank you for offering the best musical buffet I have ever had the pleasure to indulge in while at sea. Please, when it comes time to cut corners, leave your music budget alone! Never, ever resort to that horrible synthesized sound that so many other cruise lines are using in place of professional musicians and singers.
Note to Fellow Cruisers:
1) Music is for everyone to enjoy. However, please consider the problems caused when you encourage and allow your children to take over a dance floor. I know some posters think that a dance floor, in the evening, is no place for children. I disagree. Children should have a place on the dance floor but that place should have boundaries. It should be "a place" not "the place". Parents, please accompany your children and shepherd them away from the adults who run the risk of tripping over them as they crawl about and play around unattended. Some parents think that if the dance floor is empty, it is fine for their kids to fool around on it but what these parents don't understand is that older adults arrive in the meantime and might like to dance but do not because it is so difficult to manoeuvre around flailing kids. To me it's just a matter of common sense and consideration of the adults who want to use the space for which it was intended.
The shows were the best I have seen, at sea. Again, like the music venues, there was something for everyone. I have listed them below in no particular order.
The Adult Comedy Show made me laugh so hard that my rib cage hurt the next morning. The Comedy Club is an intimate space and as people entered, the host sat in the front corner and covering his mouth with a mic and a menu so he would not be noticed. He did this running commentary on each person who came in thought he door, doing a kind of monologue on what they were saying to their companion or what they were thinking, if they arrived alone. It was hysterical and people were great sports about it. He told me later that he had just started doing that particular gag that week and he was having fun with it. The first comic was Gary Delena and his act included retooling the lyrics of well known songs. His commentary about family life was very, very funny. Cracked me up. He's actually a really good guitar player, too. Eric Lyden, the second act, was delightfully irreverent about pretty much everything and pointed out that when he thought a joke didn't go over well, he would take a long drink of water on stage and if he thought the joke had really bombed, he would stare ruefully at the glass of water. It was a really funny ploy to tie everything together and never got tired. These two guys were so good that we purchased a CD from each one after their show.
Hairspray is a good choice for an afternoon show. I've seen the full production before, in Toronto, and this one was good. Clever sets, fun costumes, great dancing and catchy tunes. Combine that with some good sound advice about life and love and you've got yourself a winner.
Even though we had reservations for the Aqua Show, we decided on the second night to get an aerial view of the show by watching it from the small public deck, accessed at the end of the hall on Deck 14. We were lucky that the mechanical problems did not exist the week before last and the show did go on. I loved the "looking down on it all" perspective. I expected only diving and there was so much more, including trampoline work and aerial stunts. Quite a spectacle. This was the only show, however, where I thought the attempt to weave some kind of vague story around the activities going on was a bit distracting. Having said that, I was in awe over the precision achieved by these highly trained athletes.
Come Fly With Me was one of my favourite shows. I loved the theme of escaping our everyday lives and transcending it all. There was a real whimsical feeling to this production. From the opening scene, which combines real film footage blended with live performance to the fantastic use of a plane on the stage in the final scene, I was completely mesmerized. Although music was important in this show, I found myself focusing on the movements of the performers. For those of you who have been following "America's Got Talent" this summer, I couldn't help but think that the wall climbing couple would have been a graceful addition to the cast of this show.
My husband's favourite show was the headliner, Tony Tillman. This gentleman opened for Billy Cosby for many years and was an associate of Sammy Davis Jr. , while performing in Las Vegas. What I loved about him was his complete and utter confidence. What a seasoned performer! He truly commanded the stage and held the audience in the palm of his hand, through his sheer talent and total comfort on stage. He presents a whole range of music and he is really quite funny. He involves the audience through his song and dance routine. The big band sound of the Oasis of the Seas Orchestra backs him up and the musicians told me later how much they love working with him. It shows with the big grins on their faces and their cool synchronized moves while they are playing. Tony Tillman's version of Mister Bojangles will be one of those moments in theater that I I'll never forget - very sensitive and nuanced. I didn't want to blink for fear I would miss a passing expression on his face or a gesture in his dance. I only hope that I will get the opportunity to see him again. I love being that absorbed in a performance.
The Skating Show was really enjoyable and I don't especially like figure skiing. Go figure, no pun intended. Once again, variety dominated the performance from moving romantic dances to a gaggle of ducks cavorting on blades. A prearranged ride in an ice sled pulled by the skaters delighted the four children who were chosen just about as much as it did the audience, who had the pleasure of watching the sweet little expressions on their faces. There was never a dull moment and the skaters moved with expertise and joy, resulting from the hours of practice they must put in to get to that level of expertise and perfection. The sand artist, who provides a short break in the program, was magical in her ability to tell a story by moving sand with her hands on an illuminated glass plate which projects the images on to an overhead screen. Visit YouTube, if you have never seen this kind of art before. Really, really neat.
The Royal Caribbean Singers, backed up by the orchestra, perform a Summer Breeze Concert in the Aqua Theater on the fifth evening and it is a great show. I love the ambience in the theater with the seaside lounge chairs and the sultry night air. It's a really energetic show, so much so that I was dying to get up and dance. Music for the 40-50 year old crowd and it left me wanting more. Don't miss it!
Another fine time took place at 5:45, just after sailaway. It was the Rockin' Rhythm Nation Parade on the Royal Promenade. They do two parades. The second is the Lollapalooza and we missed it. So much to do... so little time! It was a great start to our cruise - a really colourful swirling line of crew members in costumes, some on stilts, all singing and dancing. Unfortunately, while I did watch the parade and I did take many, many pictures, the fact that I had been awake for 30 hours, had eaten little and had just consumed the strongest Long Island Tea ever mixed, resulted in a spotty memory of the whole vent. At least I didn't try to grab the stilts from some poor kid but I was gently nudged back by friendly security people, at some point during my overly zealous picture taking. I can assure you that the fake moustache and hat that I wore for the rest of the cruise in no way detracted from my enjoyment of my remaining time onboard this glorious vessel. It did reduce the number of kisses I got from my husband, though.
Last but not least - Richard Spacey. What can I say? This is a cruise director who goes beyond directing to acting. What a funny man. How he keeps up that level of enthusiasm, cruise after cruise, I will never know. It must be that he, quite simply, loves his job. His participation in the 70's disco dance party on the Promenade was too funny for words. People were too busy staring and/or laughing with him to actually dance but once it's over you want to see him do it all over, again and again. He does these little acts to warm up the audience before the main venue shows in the theater. His 6 minute montage of all the types of dancing your will see on the cruise ship must be modelled off of the "Evolution of Dance" video that went viral on YouTube a few years ago. Actually, I think Richard Spacey's version is better. His Limey Away video is a hoot and fellow Canucks should notice the Canadian Tire template ad in the last frame of the commercial. Kudos to his Canadian assistant cruise director who is a great match for his antics. I really liked them and enjoyed Spacey's never-ending supply of good humour and child-like merriment in everything he did. What a fantastic representative for RCL, and the industry, in general.
Note to RCL:
1) For the love of God and all that is holy, enforce your rules. This saving of seats, before shows, has got to stop. If a family of six wants to see the show, they should have their collective bottoms firmly planted in the seats, all at one time, Why do I have to sit off to the side and six rows back because Aunt Betsy and Uncle Bob want to enjoy a few more hands of poker in the casino, before the show starts? The rule is posted in the Compass and it is announced before the show starts. There should be security people in obvious places watching for this and your employees should not be afraid to strictly enforce the rule when they see people saving seats. I always get the impression that most are afraid of a scene and that they won't be supported by management if Mr. or Mrs. Cruise Passenger decides that rules are for other people and they want to kick up a fuss. Dare to emerge as a cruise line in the industry which has rules, enforces them and backs up their employees in doing so. I saw this, one night, at the Comedy Club when two people tried to sneak their underage son into the show. Not only did the RCL employee insist that the boy leave but she also pointed out that the father had been seen on camera sneaking the kid in. I wanted to give her a medal. Mother grumbled for ten minutes and father looked and acted sheepish. There's nothing worse than "pretend rules", except for, maybe, stale potato chips or uncomfortable seats on bicycles.
Note to Fellow Cruisers:
1) Make reservations for the Comedy Show, and like all shows, go early and order a drink, so that you get a good seat. Try to catch the comedians again, later in the cruise. They are that good.
2) Have your camera ready for the final bows in the show. You can get some really great shots of the cast then, since you are not allowed to take pictures during the shows, with the exception of the Ice Show. I don't recall them making an announcement to prohibit picture taking.
3) For the parades, try to get a seat in the centre area of the Promenade on the high stools near food or drink outlets. You will have a better view and you will be able to move around more, to position yourself for some good pictures. Avoid drinking a Long island Tea from Bolero's shortly before the parade begins. Tussling with security, when they try to move you over, is not a good idea. Contrary to public belief, the beds in the brig are not comfortable and the view can be beat. They do serve a nice minute steak, though.
4) For the Ice Show, try to get seats as close to the front as you can in the short end of the theater, just as you enter. The skaters will be skating toward you for most of the numbers and it is really the best spot to see the moves.
5) For the 70's Disco Dance Party, try to find a spot along the railing in the area where all the photo books are stored. Get as close to the far end as you can and you will be in the perfect spot to see the crazy antics of Richard Spacey and his gang.
I started out cruising 20 years ago and the first ship I was on was the Sovereign of the Seas. I lived in Toronto at the time and the restaurant scene was exploding. Bars and cafes were serving food prepared in new ways, using new ingredients, flavor combinations and innovative presentations on the plate. The menus I enjoyed on the Sovereign took that to a whole new level for me and I was blown away in the early 90's by what I was served.
My observation over the last few years is this. The kind of food preparation , presentation and variety we as passengers enjoyed twenty years ago, can only now be experienced in the "pay as you go" alternate dining venues onboard cruise ships today. The quality in the MDR has deteriorated. There is no question about it. Maybe we have acquired more sophisticated palates based on the plethora of restaurants available to us on land in all North American urban centers. Maybe it is because the cruise industry, in its desire to increase it's profit margin has cut corners in the dining budget. Maybe it's a combination of both. Having said that, you will not starve. There are some pretty fine meals to be had in the MDR and yes, even in the Windjammer. They just won't be there every evening, like in years gone by. When I started cruising, three course lunches were served in the MDR every day. Now on most lines they are available only on sea days. Midnight buffets were a regular event, as well as deck party buffets, and for those who remember, there was always a dessert buffet served on one evening during the cruise. Personally, I found that aspect of dining to be excessive and probably very wasteful. I often wondered what happened to the food that wasn't consumed, yet I still miss the days of fine dining in the MDR with inventive menus, and wonderful flavors and variety. In terms of the mainstream cruise lines, Carnival has emerged the winner in this category if you can stand the low ceilings and glitter everywhere you look on the ship. We were too late to make reservations in the specialty restaurants and so my review will be limited in this section to the complimentary venues for dining and snacks.
In the Opal Dining Room we chose My Time Dining and generally were seated between 6:00 and 6:30 each evening. We asked the host to seat us as a table for two every day and this was done. The dining room staff went out of their way to please the passengers. Our waiter, Roshan, was unbelievably efficient in remembering what we liked and delivering the food quickly and hot to the table every night, always with a smile on his face and a gracious comment or helpful recommendation. His assistant, Keisha, was kind and charming. Both of these RCL employees will be promoted by the time I encounter them again, if I should be so lucky. Based on the choices we made in the MDR for lunch and dinner, I would recommend the following:
Starters: vidalia onion tart (sensational), lobster bisque, chilled golden delicious apple soup, cream of mushroom soup, caprese salad, onion soup, creamed wild mushrooms in smoked pastry ( sensational), clam chowder
Main Course: pan fried pork medallions, pan seared golden sea bass, lasagne al forno, Thai BBQ chicken breast (sensational), shrimp and mahi mahi tempura, parpedelle, stewed beef in Guiness, pulled pork sandwich (sensational), corn cake and salsa
Desserts: chocolate peanut butter tart, warm almond cake, warm chocolate cake (sensational), banana cream pie, coconut crème Brule, peach pie, chocolate soufflE, coconut vanilla layer cake, dessert sampler - trio of three selections, key lime pie (sensational)
You're on holiday and it's included in the price, so why not try Room Service. Great crispy bacon, potato patties, fresh fruit, hot steaming coffee, and a great selection of pastries and buns for a fabulous breakfast on your balcony as you pull into port early in the morning is the way to go or a cheese plate to enjoy with some wine in your cabin as you get ready for dinner, is a lovely treat. Try the honey stung chicken for lunch or a late night snack on the balcony. We used the card, hung on the doorknob for breakfast, and ordered by phone some mornings, as well, and it was all quickly delivered hot and fresh.
Based on reports I had read about the Windjammer on Cruise Critic, we were pleasantly surprised. Check the boards by the elevator for how busy it is and make your plans accordingly. We had no problem finding a table by the window on a port day. The set up was really good. I always cruise the stations like a Great White Shark before I settle on my prey, I mean selections. I thought the food was really quite good, especially the beef in Guiness and the Asian selections.
The Park Cafe was a gorgeous space but I wasn't as wowed by the food as I thought I would be. My husband loves roast beef sandwiches but he didn't return for a second one during the cruise. It has the smallest selection of desserts. I think children love the fact that the packages of potato chips are there for the taking - kid heaven!
At the Mondo Coffee Bar, delicious small sandwiches made on different kinds of bread, are always available. Very fresh and very flavorful. Try the Tira Misu in the cup - yummy!
In terms of Sorrento's Pizzeria, as my dear late mother-in-law used to say, "I wouldn't thank you for it." I wanted to like it but it lacked all the good pizza essentials - flavorful crust, fresh tasting sauce, and good cheese.
We had breakfast at Johnny Rockets one morning and I was disappointed. The much touted potato breakfast concoction consisted of small home fried potatoes with sautEed vegetables and cheese minus any discernible seasonings. Service was cheerful and the ambience was very nice, though.
Note to RCL:
1) Desserts are really good, but your overall menu needs tweaking. Only a few selections were really memorable. Food preparation tended toward bland flavors and presentation on the plate lacked creativity. Vegetable side dishes were, for the most part, uninspired.
2) Talk to Carnival.
Note to Fellow Cruisers:
1) We have learned over the last few cruises to always consult our MDR waiter and to follow his or her advice when eating, in the same way that we adhere to the directions given on our GPS, when driving. Sometimes it sounds strange, but they know. They know.
Activities We Enjoyed
The ship is a marvel and when posters say that you can't do everything in the seven days, they are correct. Sad but true. We didn't rock climb, (too weak), wave surf, (too chicken), or zip line, (too late) but we did ride the carousel, (too cute), and we did build a bear, (too funny). The pools were pretty crowded. Does the term "people soup" mean anything to you? If you don't like bumping body parts with strangers go early in the morning for a refreshing dip. I still don't understand why they ruined the serenity of the cantilevered pools by installing television screens over them. The adult solarium was very pretty but very hot during the day. The little spa pool is best enjoyed in the evening. The canopied round lounge chairs are superb for relaxing and were in high demand.
The Live the Oasis is a combination guide book and scavenger hunt, on sale in On Air. The book leads you to search all of the neighborhoods for answers to questions about the ship. It is loads of fun and will really broaden your experience of the ship. Apparently it all culminates in the Live the Oasis Game Show held at the end of the cruise. Yet another event we missed. I am proud to say we wrote answers for all question and if anyone has a key with the correct answers, I'd love to look at it.
For those of you who scrapbook, you have hit the jackpot on this cruise. I have just joined the cult this summer and I had completed the first scrapbook of our honeymoon cruise by the end of July. I was always enticed to go to scrapbooking sessions on other cruises when I was in my "just curious" stage. Typically a largely indifferent crew member showed up in a lounge, carrying what looked to be a fishing tackle box containing assorted scissors, markers and scraps of paper. Not on the Oasis! You will have the opportunity to attend two one hour sessions every day in a fully equipped room with all kinds of equipment and supplies. Cee Cee's, ( a member of the cruise activity staff) enthusiasm for sharing scrapbooking techniques and tips is only exceeded by her sweetness! Three different packages are given to you, without charge. They include about 5 different design pages, matching accessories and accent papers. I remember one is geared toward designing pages for formal night pictures. Two large packages are available for purchase - $10.00 each. One is specific to RCL and the Oasis and the other is the set of the three packages that you receive for no charge if you attend the three sessions on the specific days on which they are offered. I dragged my husband so that we could get two packages at each session. (What we will do for love!)
Skating was an absolute blast. Wear long pants and bring thick socks. The provide really good skates with excellent ankle support. You can skate for about an hour to great music and pretend that you are actually good at it.
The Oasis has a really decent miniature golf course on the top level. It is pretty challenging and never so busy that it wouldn't be fun to do. Fill out your score card and keep it for a great souvenir.
The art and gardens on the ship are the greatest I have ever seen. The garden tour is one thing that I missed and would love to go back and do. Staff from the gallery conduct four art tours but it is unclear until the end of the cruise that each one is different unless you have done at least two of them. It is a visually stunning ship and the art is the greatest contributing factor to this effect. I purchased "Wonderbook - The Art on Oasis of the Seas", a photo commentary guide to the art onboard and I am sorry I didn't buy the book at the start of the cruise so that I could have sought out some of the more major or interesting pieces in the onboard collection. The series of bronze cast pillars with the magnified natural collections illuminated from within are really unique and very visually captivating. I truly think you could sail this ship for a week to locate and enjoy the art, alone.
Note to RCL:
1) Thank you for creating such a playground and hosting so many fun activates. My only suggestion would be to promote the art more effectively by advertising the tours more clearly in terms of the titles you use for them, providing/renting audio headsets for self -guided tours and/or providing a printed list of the bronze pillar collections and binocular collection including what's in them and where they are located so that your passengers who really appreciate art have a greater range of option for locating and enjoying the collection onboard.
Note to Fellow Cruisers:
1) Don't put off activities, such as ice skating because as the week progresses the rink gets much more crowded during the public skate sessions since many people are trying to cram in what they have missed.
2) If you or you child want to build a bear, do it as early as possible. We got the last RCL captain's uniform for our bear, who we named Otis (of the Seas). They run out of the popular clothing options earlier than you think.
3) Check with Cee Cee regarding the scrapbooking schedule so that you can get all three packages or double if you can drag someone along with you.
4) Golf early in the morning. That upper deck turns into a huge baking sheet in the afternoon.
Everything about this cruise exceeded our expectations. (I was ready for the food to be a hit or miss experience based on my last several cruises.) We did a lot of "firsts" on this cruise, including self assisted debarkation. We'll never do the "luggage out in the hall the night before" thing again. It was so simple and so smooth. Cruising has come a long way in this department! For all of you who are planning a cruise, consider this ship. For those of you who have already booked and are anxiously awaiting your time on the Oasis, I wish you a happy, happy cruise!! I have loved doing this series of three reviews and I will conclude with some photos. I'll do a separate and final thread on food porn shots for those foodies out there who love gazing at dinner plates.